Tiberiu Moga is an undergraduate student in Medical Education at the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine, studying to complete a medical degree — and is also one of the winners of our In Your Element essay competition (we’ll be featuring the winners on Reactions over the coming months).
1. What made you want to be a chemist?
In some ways, chemistry chose me and not the other way around. As an undergraduate, I was drawn to chemistry because it allows one to understand life on the most fundamental (i.e. atomic) level. By understanding medicine at the molecular level, one can develop creative new approaches to treating and curing diseases, ultimately saving lives. I have also had good professors (in chronological order: P.A. Jacobi, R.B. Grubbs, R.P. Hughes, F.J. Kull (senior and junior), D.S. Glueck, G. Gribble, J.E.G. Lipson, J.S. Winn, E.V. Pletneva, D. Wilcox and R.S. Cantor) who challenged me to do my best and nurtured my passion for chemistry.
2. If you weren’t a chemist and could do any other job, what would it be – and why?
If I could not study chemistry, I would probably study the Classics, with a focus on ancient Greek and Roman history. I took Latin in high school and have always been fascinated to learn more about the ancient world.
3. What are you working on now, and where do you hope it will lead?
At the moment, I’m taking a break from doing research to study medicine. If I chose a career in academic medicine, I hope the knowledge of chemistry I have gained will help me develop new therapies for currently intractable diseases. If not, at least chemistry will allow me to understand the mechanisms of action of the medicines I prescribe.
4. Which historical figure would you most like to have dinner with – and why?
Given the choice, I would like to have dinner with Hippocrates, in order to better understand medicine in his day.
5. When was the last time you did an experiment in the lab – and what was it?
My most recent experiment was in the summer of 2011. For that experiment, I was trying to determine the effects of different compounds on the molecular biology of brain tumors.
6. If exiled on a desert island, what one book and one music album would you take with you?
If exiled to a desert island, I would take History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides as my one book. As for the music album, it would probably be a selection of music by Mozart.
7. Which chemist would you like to see interviewed on Reactions – and why?
My preference would be to see Robert H. Grubbs (2005 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry) interviewed on Reactions. When I was an undergraduate at Dartmouth College, he came once to give a lecture about his research but I could not attend due to a time conflict. I sorely regretted missing that talk as I would later go on to study the very subjects he discussed. His son, Robert B. Grubbs (future Nobel Laureate in Chemistry?), was also one of my undergraduate chemistry professors and inspired me to study chemistry further, to the point of completing a Bachelor of Arts in the subject.